Afro-Colombian Researcher Raúl Cuero Named MOSI’s 2013 National Hispanic Scientist of the Year


Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry has chosen its 2013 honoree for the National Hispanic Scientist of the Year, Dr. Raúl Cuero, Ph.D., renowned microbiologist, inventor, and president/research director of the International Park of Creativity in Bogota, Colombia. Originally from Buenaventura, Colombia, Dr. Cuero’s story is remarkable. As a child of a very poor family, without access to an abundance of toys or distractions, he was intrigued by the behavior of roaches and lizards, which were abundant in his environment. He also observed the ravages due to illnesses such as malaria, tuberculosis, and others. His concerns and intellectual curiosity developed into a passion for science.

Cuero’s work has been renowned in the field of biotechnology. As a research scientist and Distinguished Professor of Texas A&M University, he developed six inventions, and in 2008 received recognition for these inventions. As a NASA Scientific Research Collaborator in Astrobiology and Biogenesis, he developed two inventions, one being the discovery of a natural molecule to protect the skin from the effects of UV radiation that lead to skin cancer. This technology will protect astronauts from the effects of UV rays, and in 2012, earned Dr. Cuero a new technology award from NASA.

Dr. Cuero was born in Buenaventura, Colombia, where during the 1950s, more than 30 percent of the children in his hometown died from diseases such as parasites, malaria, tuberculosis and viral diseases before reaching the age of 10. This served as the inspiration for his career. He has a Bachelor degree from the University of Heidelberg (Ohio, USA), a Master of Science degree in Plant Pathology from Ohio State University, where he studied under academic scholarship and a Ph.D. in Microbiology at the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom. He also received a scholarship award for his inventions when he was a student there. During the pursuit of his Ph.D., he developed an invention related to containment for solid state fermentation.

During his professional career, Dr. Cuero was one of the first scientists to go to China and South Africa to lecture on biotechnology in 1986. He has been published in more than 110 scientific journals in the fields of biology, microbiology, molecular biology and synthetic biology. He has received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Antioquia, Colombia, for his scientific contributions and an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities from the University of Caldas, Colombia, for his scientific contributions that benefit society. He has received the title of Commander granted by the Mayor of Manizales, thanks to his contributions to the city of Manizales and for the development of young scientists and inventors. He also received the 2012 Colombian Leadership Award for outstanding performance in science and technology. Dr. Cuero was the 2011 Keynote speaker at the World DNA and Genome Congress, as well as the keynote speaker on biochips and biosensors at the world congress on molecular medicine in China in 2012.

Dr. Cuero is also the founder, president, and research director of the International Park of Creativity (IPOC). IPOC’s objectives are to create young inventors under the mentorship of inventors, to create and/or invent new technologies and products for global markets, implement scientific research and developments for diverse industries and/or other institutions seeking new technologies and products for a competitive global market, and to be a “Think Tank” center for economic, social, scientific and technological development.

“It’s an honor for MOSI to present this award to Cuero,” said Wit Ostrenko, MOSI president. “As the Director of the International Park of Creativity, we feel Cuero’s background directly ties into our mission and core ideology of making science real and demonstrates MOSI’s core values on the power of S.T.E.M. education for our youth.”

MOSI will present this year’s National Hispanic Scientist of the Year Award to Cuero during a gala award ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 12.

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